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The Book

Mr. John Fitzgerald lived in Juneau, Alaska. He wished to live as far as possible from people and all their misgivings and corrupt natures. He moved to Juneau after years working amongst the high paid stock brokers of New York City. He watched fortunes gained and lost in the span of a heart beat. At thirty one years old he was tired of the rat race. He googled the quietest town in America and what he came up with was Juneau Alaska. He cashed in his 401k the next day and sub leased his Manhattan apartment and quit his job all within a week.

Mr. Fitzgerald bought a condo site on seen over the internet. He landed and never regretted a moment since then.

His condo is in the heart of downtown Juneau Alaska. Each morning he is awed by the spectacular views of downtown and the surrounding mountains. He is within walking distance of the State Capital, restaurants, and quaint little shops.

The condo gives him the comfort and luxury he is used to with the peace and solitude he craves. The spacious two bedroom condo has Brazilian floors, framed by high windows that peak all the way up to ten feet plus ceilings. The kitchen opens up into the living area with a dining and breakfast bar. A short distance away the foyer holds a washer and dryer. The bathroom is tiled in marble. The bedroom has a charming office nook by a window.

Yes Mr. John Fitzgerald is very happy with his peace and solitude until night falls over Juneau. After eating his supper of canned chicken noodle soup and a cold bologna sandwich he looks out at the peaceful and screen town and wonders who else maybe doing the same very thing at that same moment in time.

Mr. Fitzgerald despised anything out of order. He was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder as a young child and continues to struggle daily even with the help of meds.

To most people he is considered average in looks. His face, which showed stress lines to deep for a man of his years. His head grew soft shiny black hair and his wide lips sported a neatly trimmed mustache, when he smile, his perfect and stunning dove white teeth shone with such a brilliance as to almost blind.

His cheekbones also gave his face a harsh character; horse like but there was no harshness in the dark brooding eyes which, looking at the world from under their black eyebrows, gave the impression of a man ever alert to greet a redeeming instinct in others but often fell short and left John disappointed.

He lived happily in his well organized condo only leaving to pick up his mail and buy groceries. Every Sunday after church he would walk down by the frozen river. Even as the cold winter grasped Juneau tightly in Mother Nature’s frigid grasp.

John would take his afternoon meal at the Starlight restaurant. He would dine on the catch of the day. Enjoy a homemade piece of apple pie and a cup of coffee before he made the walk back to his Condo.

John’s liking for poetry brought him sometimes to a small little smoky club where they had poetry readings on Thursday nights. These few outings were the joy of his life.

He had no friends in Alaska. He lived on the peripheral vision of society. He attended church but never became a member. His spiritual life was something he enjoyed.

John is bone chilling lonely in his self made prison. Longing for a companion, but scared, in the same token to upset the balance of his perfectly ordered life.

This cold, snowing evening he found himself sitting alone in the Rat Trap drinking a beer and listening to dark, melancholy poem. The words washed over him strangely soothing his tortured soul. The people of the pub all sat in silence as they listened to the dark haunted poem from the mouth of a small, beautiful woman.

He listened to her as she read her poem, it made his skin shiver and he felt as though she spoke directly to him.

When I Die

When this pitiful body ignores life,

I hope you would cry for me,

Not a lamentation of queer happiness,

But for my tear some demise.



As I march along this solitary journey,

Please intone a humble song of goodbye,

A melody that’d last till eternity,

For soon I’d be set aside by memory.



How sad! For we might not see each other again,

Maybe only in a romantic dreamland rendezvous,

Or in a place where love is not blind,

Just to feel how is it to be loved and requited.



Let your tears dearly envelop me,

So in misery I’d not be too lonely,

And in death sing me sad farewell,

For you to know the meaning of loneliness.

She spoke of longing in such a way that it made him feel like crying. He watched a single tear slowly fall down her child like face. He to felt the wetness of a tear leaves its mark on his skin.

She finished her poem and spoke not another word, but simply walked out the door. He sat dumb founded; he heard his blood pound in his ears.

Who was that woman?

He felt a wave of such an overwhelming desire it made him weak. He finished his beer and left the pub with the woman's sweet, dark, voice still in his mind. He drove back to his Condo, lost in thought.

That night he dreamed of the dark haired woman. She read him her haunted poetry as she rested against him in a rose scented bubble bath. He could feel the gentle softness of her curved body as she rested against him. When he woke he reached for her, but she was not there.

He went about his week waiting for Thursday. He prayed she would be back again. He would come back every Thursday for three weeks straight. But his persistence worked well for John. She was back to read more of her poetry.

Tonight she read of young lovers separated by war. Him a young soldier and she but a love struck girl. She spoke so soft, so delicate. All in the room strained forward in their seats to listen. As she spoke John could picture war torn Europe, planes that scattered bombs as well as bodies across the hard, frozen ground.

When she finished no one moved, no one seemed to breathe. It was an eerie stillness. Then from a small table clapping started and each person in the small pub, clapped and got to their feet. The woman sat motionless, her ivory skin shaded a soft pink on her cheeks. She quickly stood and walked towards the door.

John stood quickly not letting her escape this time. He was surprised that she seemed so shy and a little awkward. He asked her to join him for a drink. She agreed showing perfect small white teeth.

While they talked he tried to fix her permanently in his memory. Her face, which must have been breathtaking in her youth, had remained behind very intelligent brown eyes that quickly shied away from his steady gaze. It was a heart shaped face with strongly marked features.

They talked for two hours that first time. He hung on every word she softly whispered across the table to him. He found out her name was Elizabeth she was thirty-five, married, without children. The pub staff started giving them looks, it was late and they wanted to go home.

He met her again a few weeks afterwards by chance at the post office. She wore a wedding ring and she had mentioned once or twice during the previous conversation about her husband but her tone did not suggest as making the allusion a warning. Her husband was pilot for the Navy.

John wondered about Elizabeth and her husband Ian. How could a man leave a soulful, intelligent, witty woman for months at a time? He knew death would be the only thing that would separate him from her.

Their paths crossed by chance a third time at the super market. She was in the produce isle looking at tomatoes. She looked up and smiled when she seen him. He found courage in her warm welcoming smile to ask her out for dinner. She didn't hesitate in response and said “I would love to.”

This was the first of many dates they would have. They went to dinners, movies, and on Thursday night John would be in the front table of the Rat Trap waiting anxiously for Elizabeth to read her poetry. Her poetry always brought out his rawest, deepest emotions. It scared him when he realized he was falling in love with Elizabeth. After her poetry reading they would walk huddled together down by the deserted river holding each other close. This was what John craved most of all. The feeling that right in that moment of time Elizabeth was his and his alone in this frozen cold place called Juneau Alaska.

Elizabeth never asked John to her home and this bothered John in a way. They always drove separate when they met. John knew of course she was married and that her husband Ian was in the Persian Gulf somewhere thousands of miles away. Still he wanted to know more about her.

He arranged to meet her for dinner at seven- thirty, but instead of waiting for her at the restaurant he went to her house instead. Juneau was a small town people knew people so all it took was a inquiring question at the post office to get her address. He pulled into her drive around seven and with roses in hand he made his way to her front door.

When she opened the door her beauty made his heart stop. She was dressed in a simple black cocktail dress, her hair loose and sexy down her back. She gave him a warm smile and stepped aside so he could enter. She had been expecting him. Juneau was a small town and she had heard of his inquisitive questions on her own from her friend that worked at the post office.

John had not received the shocked expression he had been planning for and laughed so hard when she told him that she had been waiting over an hour for him. He pulled her into his arms and the smell of her perfume washed over him like a spring rain.

Captain Ian returned home for two weeks and he asked to meet John, having heard so much about him from his wife. Something in Ian's stand offish behavior told John that Ian had dismissed his wife so completely from having any sexual desire for her, that he did not suspect that anyone else would take an interest in her either.

Ian left for another month of duty never the wiser that someone in fact had found Elizabeth desirable in every sense of the word.

Little by little they wove the fibers of their lives together, intertwining them as tight as new spun wool from a loom. Neither John nor Elizabeth had ever been embroiled in a thing like this. Neither was conscious or maybe they where that what started out as friendship was quickly spinning into a full on love affair.

John found his neat and ordered life starting to change. Elizabeth opened him up to the wonders of simply living. They would spend quiet nights at her house cuddled on the couch reading a book together, each taking a chapter to read while the other quietly listened. She would debate with him for hours over global warming, or the state of the US economy. Her mind amazed him; it was quick and always seemed to be one step ahead of his.

He had wanted to surprise her with a rare book of poetry he searched and searched until he found the perfect one. Al Que Quiere! By William C. Williams. He was elated with his find and couldn't wait to give Elizabeth the rare book of poems. It would take three weeks to reach Juneau.

In the quiet peacefulness that surrounded Elizabeth, John could feel himself change. With an inherent maternal instinct she urged him to face his deepest fears about himself. He opened to her fully shedding tears of pent up anguish, regret, and shame. She became his life line to salvation for years of torture he himself had inflicted.

He often went to pick her up for work and would return when her day was over and drive her home again. She became his main focus in life. She was his, his only care no matter the ring she wore on her finger from a man that was thousands of miles away.

Many times she allowed the dark to fall upon them, the light from a small candle the only source of light in the small house. They would listen to soft, slow romantic music alone in the dark together. This was their oasis from the real world. The music warmed, soothed and united them.

This union buoyed him, carried away the rough edges and stabilized his mental health. Sometimes when he was away from her he caught himself talking out loud. He wondered if to her, he sounds intelligent and as smart as her husband. He thought that in her eyes he would ascend to a place above that of Ian because surely she didn't love him as much she loved John.

John became more and more attached, desperate for more and more time with her. He heard the strange impersonal voice which he recognized as his own, insisting on knowing her comings and goings at all hours of the day. His entire soul was consumed by her.

He remembered a song it said: hold on loosely but don't let go. He was desperately trying to do that but he struggled continually with the fact that he loved her and she was claimed by another who failed to appreciate what he had.

One night as they enjoyed dinner together she was acting unusual with excitement, Elizabeth reached across the table and held his hand. She passionately, pressed it to her lips and kissed the palm of his hand.

John was very much surprised by her actions. They had never acted on their physical desires. Always stopping before things got out of control. But john felt such a rush of heat surge through his body that if she kissed his hand again there would be no stopping him. He quickly stood and wished her good evening and left. She stood crying in the door of her small home.

He did not call her for a week and then he called asking her to meet him. He did not wish the last meeting to be troubled by the remembrance of their ruined dinner.

They meet at the Starlight cafe. They talked for three hours, him struggling to let her go but so scared, and selfish that his world will collapse without her in it. Was she not worthy of the touch of a man that desired her and only her?

They agreed to break off their relationship, every bond, he said, “If we don't temptation will lead to action which can only lead to sorrow.”

When they came out of the Starlight diner they walked in silence towards the parking lot but here she began to tremble so violently, fearing he didn't have the resolve to let her go he told her good-bye and left her.

He knew as he drove home that he was a coward, worthless man that didn't deserve a woman as wonderful as Elizabeth.

TWO WEEKS PASSED

John returned to his even and structured life. His condo still bore witness of the woman’s presence but he did not change it. He began to read poetry often as not crying because he missed her with every fiber of his being.

He knew the old adage that men and woman can't have a friendship because physical desires will always intrude. He began to agree. He stayed away from the Rat Trap and the Starlight diner and avoided places she might be.

And still every morning he went by her house and watched her drive to her office. And every night he made sure she made it home safe. After he watched her enter her house he would pick up his mail at the post office that had been his routine for two weeks.

A nagging cold kept John from his watch over Elizabeth for three days. Then he finally was able to go at least to the post office for his mail and newspapers. To his surprise the book he had ordered had arrived.

He stopped at the Starlight diner and took his mail and newspapers with him to read as he ate. He was about to take a bite of his cheeseburger as he scanned the front page of the local newspaper. His hand stopped. His eyes fixed themselves on a paragraph in the evening paper. He replaced the cheeseburger to his plate and read the paragraph attentively. Then he drank a glass of water, pushed his plate to one side and read the paragraph over and over again.

The cheeseburger turned cold. The waitress came over to him to ask was his dinner not properly cooked. He said it was fine but he had suddenly lost his appetite. Then he paid his bill and went out.

He walked to his car, and sat in the eerie silence of the car. The moonlight shined across the frozen land of Juneau Alaska as Johns heart shattered to pieces.

On the lonely road which leads from Juneau to Anchorage, he drove in silence. His breath, issuing irregularly, almost with a sighing sound, condensed in the wintry air. When he finally had control of his senses he stopped the car. Turned on the over head light and read the article again. He read it in the silence of the car.

Mrs. Elizabeth Rochester died of fatal injuries she sustained during a fatal car accident on Monday Jan 14, 2011. The car in which she drove was struck head on by a drunk driver as he crossed the center line. Mrs. Rochester was returning home from working at the children's hospital where she worked in the intensive care unit as a RN. She was married to Caption Ian Rochester currently serving in the gulf coast for the navy.

The Coroner said it was a most painful case, and expressed great sympathy with Captain Rochester and their family. The driver of the car in question was a 19 year old Alaska native. He had been at a birthday party for a close friend. After leaving the party the defendant lost control of his car, crossed the center line striking Mrs. Rochester head on. She died instantly at the scene.

John raised his eyes from the paper and gazed out of his window on the cheerless evening landscape. What an end! The whole article of her death sickened him and it sickened him to think that he was home being a baby over a silly cold. He could have driven her to work that day! She was his responsibility and he had failed her.

The extravagant phrases, the empty expressions of sympathy, all words of a reporter who had never met Elizabeth clenched his stomach; he opened his car window for fresh air to stop the attack on his stomach. His soul's companion dead! God, why, why what an end!

He turned the light off and closed the window of his car as his memory began to wander. He thought he felt her hand touch his again just like the last time she had touched him.

The shock which had first attacked his stomach was now attacking his nerves. He was losing his sanity as fast as the rush of a thawing river. One human being on the face of the earth seemed to love him, but he pushed her away.

He felt for the book resting on the seat next to him. The book he bought her, the book of poems he was sure they could have read together.

Now it was a cold sad reminder, she would never enjoy the book of poems, neither would he. The book would forever more remain sealed shut as was his heart.





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